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Northern Lights Could Be Visible From UK Tonight

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Northern Lights Could Be Visible From UK Tonight

Stargazers could - potentially - be in for a treat tonight (11 December), with the Northern Lights possibly being visible over the UK.

Northern Scotland and parts of Northern England are the best spots for any potential sightings, though it's not certain.

The incredible spectacle, which most of us have only seen in photographs, is also known as the Aurora Borealis, and is caused by millions of particles in the solar flares that are shot out by the Sun interacting with the Earth's atmosphere.

And according to reports, this very rare event for our shores is due to the Sun releasing one of its biggest solar flares seen for the last three years.

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The Northern Lights may be visible from the UK. Credit: PA
The Northern Lights may be visible from the UK. Credit: PA

Speaking about the event, meteorologists at Aurora Watch UK said sightings were certainly not guaranteed and relied on a number of factors such as cloud coverage and light pollution.

They said: "NOAA NWS Space Weather Prediction Center has issued Geomagnetic Storm Watches for 9th - 11th December due to the anticipated arrival of a Coronal Mass Ejection. This means a possibility for aurora sightings across UK.

"As always, timings are uncertain and sightings are not guaranteed - so keep an eye on our alerts for updates."

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Coronal Mass Ejections are powerful eruptions near the surface of the sun which can have an effect on Earth - sometimes affecting satellites and power grids.

When charged particles from CMEs hit our atmosphere, the effect they have on Earth's magnetic field can be observed as the aurora lights at the poles.

A statement from the Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC) read: "As CME effects continue, activity is likely to increase, especially if the magnetic field carried with the CME connects well with Earth's magnetosphere.

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"Therefore, the potential for strong storm levels exists and a G3 (Strong) Watch is in effect for December 10th. CME-related disturbances are forecast to continue into 11 December, likely resulting in G2 (Moderate) storm levels - and another Watch has been issued accordingly.

"While SWPC forecasters are fairly confident in CME arrival at Earth, timing and geomagnetic storm intensity are less certain. Continue to monitor our SWPC webpage for the latest conditions and forecast."

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Over in the US, it's understood there is a slighter chance of seeing the Northern Lights, and like the UK it's most likely for people living in the very far north of the country.

If you're lucky, you might just see a glimpse of the Northern Lights tonight. Credit: PA
If you're lucky, you might just see a glimpse of the Northern Lights tonight. Credit: PA

However, if you miss out, don't worry, there's more stargazing to be done over the coming days.

According to reports, hundreds of brightly coloured shooting stars will fill the skies this weekend, and this year the annual meteor shower will appear stronger than usual.

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Widely regarded as the best annual meteor shower, stargazers can expect to see the Geminids between 4 and 17 December, with the peak taking place overnight from Sunday 13 to Monday 14 December.

According to Royal Museums Greenwich, the rate you can expect to see in the Northern Hemisphere will be around 100 meteors an hour - almost one every 30 seconds.

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: Science, Nasa, Scotland

Dominic Smithers
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